Entertainment

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Season 8

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Sep 24, 2013
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There’s something a little vicious and calculated about FX’s rude comedy "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia," a show that seems to take pride in conjuring up the very worst (and stupidest) behavior possible among a group of morally clueless friends and family members who run a seedy watering hole. If nothing else, this is a show that could make a boast about its main setting being a bar where nobody would bother to learn your name.

The ten episodes of Season Eight, all present and accounted for on this two-disc set, start off scraping the barrel’s bottom and then claw right through it. Along the way, the show skewers (or hacks at, sometimes in a dull and jagged manner) issues such as euthanasia, alternative medicine, and gaming culture (not to mention such sporting diversions as digging up mama’s grave). The ideas are utterly, ludicrously over the top, but that’s not the problem. Outrageous material can be effective (outrageously effective) but only with super-sharp writing and production. The writing rises to the level of adequate... more or less, though not always... but this is fundamentally a cheaply made show that settles for crude laughs and shock humor.

The special features here don’t amount to much, either; there’s audio commentary on selected episodes (little of interest), as well as deleted scenes (again, nothing especially interesting) and promo spots like "Frank Reynolds: How to Be A Warthog" (Danny DeVito’s character shilling rapacious corporate advice) and "Fat Mac: In Memoriam" (mourning the passing of one character’s days as an obese man; actor and co-creator Rob McElhenny really did pack on the pounds for the show, before losing them again -- a devotion to his art that exceeds the artfulness to be found in it).

There’s also a short "pilot episode" of a (hopefully) never-to-be-produced spinoff in which two of the characters’ mothers live together (and one of them, a chain-smoking, pistol packing harridan, responds to a home invasion by shooting the guy dead -- a reasonable response, perhaps, but not a terribly funny one).

Is this set worth buying? If you like what the show has done before, then of course it is -- this is more of the same. "Sunny" has always been better in conception than in execution (describe a typical plot and you could actually make it sound funny in a scathing, satirical way; watching it will serve insomniacs by putting them to sleep, with a nightmare a possible side effect), but it’s a perfect fit for the kind of twisted, lumpy sensibility that’s given rise to a large share of current pop culture.

In short, this show is boring, cheap, and not very funny. It’s also rather popular, and it’s easy to see why: Its strain of nasty excess is meant as an earnest examination, if not corrective, for our culture’s worst flaws -- narcissism, selfishness, and sociopathic disregard for others among them. Some will laugh along out of exasperation, and some because they genuinely think this show is hilarious. If you fall into the latter camp... what’s that phrase drug commercials always use? Oh, yes: "See your doctor."

"It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia: The Complete Season 8"
DVD
$39.98
http://shop.fxnetworks.com/its-always-sunny-in-philadelphia-season-8-dvd/detail.php?p=463134&v=fx_shows_its-always-sunny-in-philadelphia&pagemax=all

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network’s Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association’s Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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